On 11 October, Sega published the latest entry in the Total War franchise developed by Creative Assembly, Pharaoh. It builds on the systems introduced in A Total War Saga: Troy and, as you might expect, is another game set in the Late Bronze Age. Some thoughts on Pharaoh are forthcoming.
Friends of Ancient World Magazine, Invicta History, asked me to write the script for two videos to coincide with the release of the game, and the first was published a little over a week ago. It deals with the Hittites, and more specifically, due to the focus of the Total War series, with the military aspects of this ancient people.
You can watch the video above or on YouTube. If you like videos like this, please consider supporting Invicta History, for example by becoming a Patron.
Some minor notes
I did the research for the video and wrote the script, but a few small changes were made in that period after the script left my hands and before the video was published on YouTube. In one instance, this led to one or two minor errors that I would like to correct.
Around the 3’30” mark, the Hittites are described as having a “constitutional monarchy”. This was not in my script. I have searched online and found that the source of this statement is likely a Wikipedia article on the concept of constitutional monarchy, which claims that the Hittites were the oldest constitutional monarchy. But this is nonsense: the notion is a modern one, and cannot be applied to the Bronze Age. The Hittites had no “constitution”.
Around the 21’00” mark, there are references to the Assyrians, and how they would overshadow the Hittites and Egyptians. I am not sure I would have put it like this, and this part is also not in my script: a reference to the “Sea Peoples” contributing to the collapse of the Hittite Empire in the west is also new and something for which there is no evidence. In fact, there is no evidence for “Sea Peoples” outside of Egypt, and the term itself is based on a mistranslation.
Furthermore, the video makes heavy use of images from Total War: Pharaoh. Especially when it comes to armour and clothing, a lot is fantastical, but I will say more about this in my forthcoming review of the game.
Suggestions for further reading
When it comes to accessible books on the ancient Hittites that have been published in English, rather than another language (like Turkish), the work of Trevor Bryce occupies centre stage. A key reference for my script is his Hittite Warrior (2007), published by Osprey, with illustrations by Adam Hook.
Also useful are his range of monographs that deal with the Hittites. With Oxford University Press, he published Life and Society in the Hittite World (2002), which deals with various aspects of the Hittite Kingdom and has a chapter devoted to the warrior (pp. 98-118). Oxford also published his general history, The Kingdom of the Hittites (2005).
For a more recent survey, check out Trevor Bryce’s Warriors of Anatolia: A Concise History of the Hittites (2019), published by I.B. Tauris. Bryce’s work is always accessible, but this is perhaps the book that most clearly caters to a general audience. The very first chapter, which deals with the discovery of the Hittites, is a great general introduction to this ancient people.
Lest you think only Bryce has written about the Hittites, there is a useful chapter, “Hittite Military and Warfare”, written by Jürgen Lorenz and Ingo Schrakamp, in the collected volume Insights into Hittite History and Archaeology (2011), pp. 125-152, edited by Hermann Genz and Dirk Paul Mielke. (Don’t worry, the book also contains a chapter written by Bryce!)
On fortifications, Osprey published Hittite Fortifications, c. 1650-700 BC (2008), written by an expert in the field, Konstantin S. Nossov, and illustrated by Brian Delf. Another useful survey, in my opinion, is offered by Dirk Paul Mielke in his “Hittite Fortifications Between Function and Symbolism”, a chapter in the collected volume, Understanding Ancient Fortifications: Between Regionality and Connectivity (2018), pp. 63-81, edited by Ariane Ballmer, Manuel Fernández-Götz, and Dirk Paul Mielke.